I turned into the girls’ neighborhood, weaving my way through streets lined with parked cars, past houses of fading pastels and lawns of sparse, weedy grass. I registered this with surprise, contrasting these aging homes with the luxury townhouses in my current neighborhood and with my image of what life should be like in the richest county in the nation. I had yet to understand that like DC, Fairfax County is an area of unlikely contrast, that beneath the veneer of wealth and perfection, there is a middle class, even poverty.
We sat on white plastic chairs, coated in a summer’s worth of dusty film, and we cracked open beers and hard cider and a bottle or two of wine. There was something comfortable about this neighborhood, something refreshing in the simple fact that it had been here longer than we had, that it lacked the startling uniformity of Fairfax’s newer neighborhoods and strip malls. This house and those around it had existed in the fifties, and there was a sense of that here, of a time when life was simpler and slower and people really did sit on the porch sipping lemonade and talking.